Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal to his mother Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro and his father José Dinis Aveiro. He grew up with a brother, Hugo, and two sisters, Elma and Katia. His second name ("Ronaldo") is relatively rare in Portugal. His parents named him after former US president Ronald Reagan because he was his father's favourite actor, and not for political reasons.

He first began kicking a football when he was three, and when he started primary school at age six, his passion for the sport was obvious. His favourite boyhood team was SL Benfica even though he would later join their rival, Sporting CP.

Early career

Ronaldo first played for an amateur team, Andorinha, where his father was the kit man, when he was just eight years old. By 1995, at just ten years of age, Cristiano Ronaldo's reputation was growing in Portugal. Madeira's top two teams, CS Marítimo and CD Nacional were both interested in signing him. Marítimo, the bigger team, missed a crucial meeting with Rui Santos manager of Andorinha, and as a result Ronaldo signed for Nacional. After a title-winning campaign at Nacional, Ronaldo went on a three day trial with Sporting Lisbon who subsequently signed him for an undisclosed sum.


Sporting Lisbon

Ronaldo joined Sporting's other youth players who trained at the Alcochete, the club's "football factory," where he received first-class instruction. Sporting realised that Ronaldo needed more support and arranged for his mother to join him. He made his debut for Sporting Lisbon against Moreirense and scored 2 goals. He also featured for Portugal in the UEFA Under 17 Championships.

His performances at the UEFA Under 17 championship drew him to the attention of the wider football world. He was first spotted by former Liverpool F.C. manager Gerard Houllier at the age of 16. However, Liverpool later declined him because he was too young and needed some time to develop into a top footballer. However he came to the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer of 2003, when Sporting Lisbon beat Manchester United 3–1 in the inauguration of the Alvalade XXI stadium in Lisbon. Ronaldo demonstrated his ability to play on both wings. After the match, United's players spoke enthusiastically of the young talent that they had just played against, saying they would rather have him in their team than play against him in the future.

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